Viggo Mortensen Talks About Getting Cast in The Lord of the Rings, 15 Years Later

It's hard to imagine anyone but Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings films, but once upon a time, someone else was supposed to get the part. Devoted fans probably know that Irish actor Stuart Townsend was originally cast in the film, but days into filming, he exited, and Mortensen stepped in. At an indie actors panel at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, Mortensen opened up about getting the role that eventually catapulted him to A-list status.

"I came to [the movie] very late. There was someone who has already been cast, which was a tricky thing. It was a mutual decision — it was nothing personal — that he was too young for the part, so they asked me. I felt funny about that . . . I hadn't read the trilogy. I read The Hobbit. I first said I didn't want to do it. You have to know whether you can, and sometimes it's just fear. It's always a different decision. When you know something has potential, and you could be right for the part, but you have to be honest with yourself. If you don't think you should do it, the mature professional thing is to say no. But in this case, it was intriguing, and in the end, I said yes. I didn't meet [director Peter Jackson] — it was a phone conversation."

So not only did he replace Townsend, he got the news over the phone. The more you know!